Sunday, October 12, 2014
What Are Your Priorities?
At the end of the day, the person I have to answer to is my child. At the end of the day, he is the one I owe my loyalty to. He is the one that I will fight for. At the end of the day, I could not sleep knowing that I chose to defend those who would vilify, dehumanize and condemn him for being Autistic. How could I defend those who would abuse or murder their own children for the crime of being like my child? What messages are we sending to our kids when we defend those who would murder them instead of standing up and fighting for their right to live with dignity and respect?
Image: Text reads: #walkinissysshoes How could I defend those who would abuse or murder their own children for the crime of being like my child? What messages are we sending to our kids when we dfend those who would murder them instead of standing up and fighting for their right to live with dignity and respect? #IamNotKelliStapleton
It is not always a popular position to take in the "Autism Community". To say that I would rather defend my child's (and my own) right to exist than to allow others to talk about him in disrespectful ways. It is not something that wins you a lot of parent friends, when you say that it's not okay to talk about parenting him, or their own kids as if it's some noble deed that they take on because we parents are such amazing, long suffering people. No, God doesn't give special kids to special people. I wish he did. But he doesn't, or else there would not be a list.
When I remind people that children are not born knowing all the answers and that Disabled children are no different, this is somehow me "not getting it". When I remind them that children with communication challenges need support, not compliance training, I am "unrealistic" because " these kids are going to have to live in the real world". Well, they are living in the real world now and you are throwing away their childhoods in pursuit of some magical, mythical "cure" that will somehow make them not Autistic. They will be living in the real world when they eventually break down because the people who are supposed to love and accept them have spent their lives being disappointed because they couldn't be "fixed".
Let me state this clearly: "lack of services" is never an okay reason to murder a Disabled person. People always want to talk about services when a Disabled person is murdered or abused as some bizarre and twisted form of victim blaming.
In the "Autism Community" lack of services is a Really Big Deal. And I fully realize that services are lacking. I'm an Autistic adult and I get exactly zero services for myself. I could REALLY use them. There are days when I am overwhelmed with panic and frustration because I have absolutely no support. I am underemployed, I am unable to drive, I have been unable to find the right combination of medication to help relieve some of my very severe social anxiety. So, lack of services, I get that. I completely understand what it's like to live without services. It's hard.
Yet, never at any point in my life, as an Autistic mentally ill mother have I even considered harming my child.
Do you know why?
Because parents like Kelli Stapleton don't murder their Disabled children because of lack of services or because they are mentally ill.
The Kelli Stapleton's of this world murder their children because they didn't want a Disabled child.
"Lack of services" and mental illness are scapegoats because the truth is a lot uglier.
If you are finding yourself sympathizing with her, and not with Issy Stapleton, there is something very, very wrong with you.
Some parents feel entitled to a "perfect child" (whatever that means). Some parents can not accept a Disabled child. Some parents will put their children through endless hours of abusive, demoralizing "therapy" to try to fix what isn't broken. So strong is their ableism. So strong is their narcissism. And so very, very wrong are their ideas about the value of their very own children's lives.
I am not Kelli Stapleton. I could never be like her.
Not because I don't feel frustration. I do. I recognize that my frustration is not the fault of my child. Not because I don't understand that Disabled lives are complicated and that raising a Disabled child can have challenges that one might not be prepared for. I know these things. I do. I do not blame my child for them. My child is perfect and exactly who he was born to be. I do not blame my hard time parenting on his neurology. I do not blame the difficulties that I encounter on Disability, but on the fact that this world is not accommodating or inclusive. I do not waste my time tearing him down because of the lies the world is trying to tell me about Disabled lives. There is no flaw in him, but so many in the way the rest of the world values his life.
I would fight without a second thought against a society that tells him every day that his life is worth less. A world that bombards him with messages that he should be lucky that I didn't kill him, as if that's the bare minimum that he deserves in a mother. That is not the world I want for him. It is not the world he deserves. So, when you tell me that it's "understandable" that a mother could do this, and that any mother of an Autistic child could do something so unspeakable and vile as Kelli Stapleton did, I am disgusted and offended. It is never understandable.
I could never do that.
No one I know could ever do that. And if they thought they could, I would tell them exactly what I said here.
Parenting is NOT about YOU.
If you need help with parenting, please seek help. Get support, but if you want to sacrifice your relationship with your child, if you want to scapegoat Disability because of your inability to handle the stresses of parenting, I will not support you. Because you are contributing to making my life harder. You are contributing to making my son's world unwelcoming and unaccepting. If you can't find a way to feel supported without dehumanizing your child, then expect to have your motives questioned.
I would support anyone who wants to help their child, who wants to learn , and who wants to understand autism from a place of respect and acceptance. Those are the ways I can support parents, and I will. As much as I can. However, I am not here to help you feel better about your own bigotry. My loyalty is with my son, with myself, and with my community. At the end of the day, that is who I fight for.
by Lei Wiley-Mydske